Dealing with the pains of BlackBoard is just another aspect of life here at Yuba College, but what happened at the beginning of this semester was a far cry from the usual log in issues or missing messages. This rare system failure started Monday, August 12th; the entire system went down and staff and students alike were unable to log in for the first three days of this semester. State and federal law states that our college is required to offer a minimum hours of online instruction, and with approximately 300 sessions being held online, the loss of Blackboard would result in not only less class sessions and interactions but school-bankrupting legal troubles as well.
In an interview with Vice Chancellor Dr. Kayleigh Carabajal I learned what had caused this extraordinary event, the current LMS (learning management system) that we know as Blackboard is actually run by a smaller company called WebCT. They were acquired by Blackboard sometime in 2007. Starting last year, BlackBoard started phasing out WebCT and for the last year of its life, our LMS would have no technical support in an effort by Yuba college administrators to save $40,000.
With many self-repaired fixes over the past year and a rapid increase in usage for the new semester the LMS was overwhelmed and broke down, and the college was forced to pay the $40,000 for some help from BlackBoard tech support. A group made up of many staff members was on the phone with the US BlackBoard support until they closed for the day, and had to get in contact with Australia’s tech support. After a grueling 34-hour work session, a solution was found. Dr. Carabajal has this to say about the failure: “What happened was an uncomfortable and acknowledged concern, and we are working to assure we have a robust system for our students to use.”
Note: this article was featured in The Prospector Fall 2013 print edition